Tag Archives: New Covenant


The fourth commandment says, “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates: For in six days the LORD made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that in them is, and rested the seventh day: wherefore the LORD blessed the sabbath day, and hallowed it” (Exodus 20:8-11). God gave the Sabbath as a “perpetual covenant” (Exodus 31:17) between the Jews and God. As long as the Jews were a nation, they were to keep the Sabbath. This was not a perpetual covenant with anyone else, however. 

The Sabbath lasted from sunset on Friday until sunset on Saturday. The Jews, especially the Pharisees, treated it very legalistically. They expanded, refined, and codified it until it became an intolerable burden. Jesus fought the popular distortion of the Sabbath by healing on the Sabbath, “For the Son of man is Lord even of the sabbath day” (Matthew 12:8). Jesus kept the Sabbath perfectly, something that no one else ever did. 

This commandment is the only one of the Ten Commandments that Jesus did not repeat for Christians. Jesus kept the Sabbath, but never commanded Christians to keep it. 

Although some try to keep the Sabbath today, none keep it as God commanded it. The Lord commanded that the Sabbath was the day for burnt offerings, and other elements which no one keeps today. Paul says that Christ abolished the law (Ephesians 2:15), and “took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2:14). The first covenant was taken away so that the better, new covenant could be established. “But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises. For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second” (Hebrews 8:6-7). 

While we are not commanded to keep the Sabbath, there are, however, many eternal principles to be learned from the Sabbath. All Christians should consider their use of time, and the work ethic taught in the commandment, that there are six days in which the servant of God will work. As the wise man Solomon wrote, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6). Paul tried to set a good example for the Thessalonians by working to support himself, giving an example (2 Thessalonians 3:7-12). “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). 

Jesus showed the way to use the Sabbath, not by treating it as a day for idleness, but a day for service, a time for bringing blessings to others. The Christian should do no less with every day given to him. All life should be a rest from evil, and days devoted to God. Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). Every Christian should evaluate his time to see how much is devoted to God, and how much is devoted to self.


The Ten Commandments, found in Exodus 20, form the basis for modern western civilization. In their summary of the proper attitude to God and one another, they provide fundamental concepts that allow people to function in obedience to God. The relevance of the Ten Commandments for the Christian lies in the timeless principles they describe. Paul explained that the Christian is no longer bound by the old covenant, including the ten commandments, because Christ brought the Jew and the Gentile together, “having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace” (Ephesians 2:15). In giving His life, Christ was “blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross” (Colossians 2.14). Christians are “delivered from the law” (Romans 7:6-7) to live under the better covenant of Christianity (Hebrews 8:6-7). 

The first commandment emphasizes that God must be first in the life of His children. “And God spake all these words, saying, I am the LORD thy God, which have brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:1-3). As God reminded Israel that He had delivered them from Egyptian bondage, the first commandment demands, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me.”

The Israelites lived in a world of many gods vying for the allegiance of men. God demanded that they recognize Him and Him alone as God. “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” is literally “Thou shalt have no other gods before my face.” Just as a woman with two husbands would be unacceptable to either husband, God demands undivided loyalty from all who claim to follow Him. The Jews could not adopt the pagan practices of their neighbors and maintain the purity God demanded. Peter and the other apostles understood the principle, refusing to be silenced by the Sanhedrin, saying, “We ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). In like manner, Christ demanded undivided loyalty from His followers. “He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me” (Matthew 10:37-38). 

The command, “Thou shalt have no other gods before me,” is also a demand for wholehearted love. God redeemed Israel from Egyptian bondage, and today He redeems mankind from the bondage of sin. The magnificence of His creation and the sacrifice of Christ for us shows that He truly is worthy of our love. Jesus summed up the proper attitude to the Father: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’” (Matthew 22:37-39). If we do this, we can truly insure that we put no other gods before Him.